Monday, February 25, 2008

Travelogue #27: The Complete Story of How I Came to Korea

Four months. That's how long I've been here.

Last year, I thought I was headed somewhere else...


Let the word rest on your tongue a minute. Ca-li-for-nia. Let the familiar pictures unreel in your head: smog, palm trees, Paris Hilton... and me? Well, I've watched every episode of The OC and Entourage, and I've visited San Francisco once. (My memory: So. many. hills.) But there's one more thing: I want to write movies.

Hollywood, here I come.

The year is 2007 and the month is February. It's cold, even in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm a senior at Emory University, and I'm punching through the third draft of my thesis: it's a screenplay, and I'm frankly obsessed with it. I scribble down scenes in class when I should be learning Freud. I bother my poor girlfriend about why I changed three lines on page sixty-two. When I'm at the gym, I wonder if my advisor is right, if my script does "need more sex." When I try to sleep, I can't. I thrash through my blankets. So many pages and so many lines, none of them quite there, not yet.

I want to tweak the script until it sings off the page. My plan is to send it to two
fellowship contests: the Nicholl and the Disney. $30,000 is in it for the winners, and in my hazy thought bubbles, I imagine myself as one of the lucky ones. I mean, I've nurtured this baby for countless hours. I've sweated every punctuation mark and every line break. I want success badder than Dustin Hoffman wanted K-Mart underwear in Rain Man.

But I have to cover my bases. I secure
a job interview for a teaching agency that places college grads into California high schools. The idea is that I could make money teaching English while establishing legit contacts in the "biz". That could work, couldn't it? I learn that new teachers begin as intern assistants notching a salary in the high twenties or low thirties. I leave the interview feeling optimistic -

"$30,000 is nothing in Los Angeles," she snaps.

That's my mom on the phone, and she is totally harshing
my high.

"I'm not a big spender, I won't have many expenses - "

"How about your car? Gas? Rent?"

for the support."

"Alex, you know I'm always going to tell you how I feel. I don't want to
watch what I say when I talk to you."

"Yeah, whatever."

"$30,000 is nothing," she says. "I'm sorry. It's nothing."

My mom's cutting words get me thinking, not as much about money, but about the job itself. Do I really
want to teach Edith Wharton novels to snotty private school kids? And what makes me think the gig won't swallow my life whole and make establishing movie contacts impossible? After all, I'm guessing the Mr. Johnsons from 10th Grade English spend more time grading papers than they do sipping cocktails with Scarlett Johansson.

Well, there's always Atlanta, no slouch in entertainment, home to Turner Broadcasting (Think TNT and TBS). No, it's not L.A., but it's a start, and it's in Atlanta. Relief is my mom's main reaction when I tell her I'm applying for an internship position as a interactive writer. She thought that Los Angeles was too far away from home anyway.

The new plan is this: I will continue to mold my screenplay as I climb the Turner ladder, thereby wowing the pants off the network heads that brought us Joe Bob Briggs and Monstervision

But first I need to land that job. On Facebook
I network my ass off, searching for anybody and everybody under the Turner Broadcasting umbrella. I courteously but persistently message these anybodies and everybodies, and some of them agree to put in a good word for me. More than a hundred people applied for the same position as a TBS.Com interactive writer.

Dammit. I want the job.

I take a tour of the Turner campus, wanting to plant the memory of my face into this huge corporation. As it turns out, I'm one of twelve to make it to phone interviews. Yes!

Things are looking up. I turn in the fifth draft of my script "Mystery Boy" to the Emory Creative
Writing Contest, and I win the first prize. It's not a fellowship, but it's more than just a pat on the back. My mom's giddy and my dad's pleased. My decision to abandon a law school path suddenly doesn't look so ill-advised. I start dreaming big and bigger: that TBS job? If I knock down the interviews, the gig is mine. The screenwriting fellowships? One just might be attainable. My quarter-life crisis looks to be in the rear view; the future is no longer scary, it's exciting.

I make it to the top three candidates for the position. I'm confident; I figure if I was strong enough to
make it to the top three, even if they don't give me a position as an interactive writer, they might find another place for me. The in-person interview goes smoothly, and Bill McLochlin, Editorial Director of Digital Platforms, tells me, "It's going to be a very hard decision...we'll definitely let you know one way or the other on Wednesday."

On Wednesday I stare at my phone so often that my eyes hurt. In my journal I write, "4:25 is when I start getting nervous..thinking, now, NOW, is when the phone will brrring. Now it'll happen. Or now. At 4:31 it'll happen... should I look at the phone or not look at the phone? Fuck it's 4:43. Fuck it's 4:44. Wouldn't they call earlier, in case they couldn't reach me? Does this mean I didn't get the job?... Close, getting very close to 5, each minute passing another punch to the gut. Why can't they tell me? Why won't they call? Why am I so out of the loop?"


"Still no word. No email, no call. About an hour ago I took matters into my own hands. I gave Bill a ring. Beep, beep, beep, voicemail. And I left it, same content as my email. I just want to know. I just want to know dammit."


"They said it was very close and they really liked my writing...but in the end the deciding factor was the winning candidate had more web experience, had his own domain. 'Sorry to be the bearer of bad news,' he tells me."

I know it'd be an overreaction to say I'm crushed. "Disappointed but not devastated," is how I put it to my mom. Disappointed but not devastated.

A week later, I graduate college and go home to Germantown, TN. Not exactly a hub for the entertainment industry. I try my Facebook way of networking, this time targeting messages to Paramount Pictures employees. Most of the replies I get are politely unhelpful, except for one that cuts right to the meat: "Pack up your shit, load it into the Camry, and get out here...I know it sounds crazy...but that's what everyone does. Trust me."

That's what everyone does?

"Once you're out here, get a temp job. Get on the lists of all the temp staffing agencies and you'll get gigs all around the city in various roles. From there you make your contacts and make a name for yourself...and don't be afraid to go out on weeknights and mingle at the bars/clubs. Everyone goes out and socializes and networks."

What the hell does any of this have to do with writing and being a writer?

Rationally I understand the advice this guy was giving. I'm not that naive, I know Hollywood is not about "art." But I guess it was easier to shrug off those not-so-pleasant social-climbing realities when I was behind the grass walls of Emory doing nothing more than, well, writing.

And what about that writing? I reread my script and begin to feel strangely detached from its content. The results of the fellowship contests come and go and I don't win a thing. I know I love writing, but do I love screenwriting? Do I love working within its machinelike
structure? After much thought, I don't think I do. And as for L.A., I dig Entourage, but I have no desire to tap glasses with Ari Gold.

My dream doesn't look like my dream anymore. It's not about giving it up; it's about starting over. I have less than $900 to my name, so I find a job at a used bookstore, I eat at Chilies with my parents, and I start this blog and write like a madman. And...and...and...I wait...for

In July that something new comes in the form of a college friend and a teaching opportunity in Korea. I read about it late at night and I feel an unmistakable buzz in my fingertips. Korea Korea Korea. Teaching. Writing. Living.

A new dream.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Travelogue #26: My Rocky Introduction to Korean Dating

I didn't come to Korea to date Korean women. Two months ago, I explained the reasons why I wasn't inclined to break down cultural barriers for hubba-hubba affection.

But that was before Ji-Yeon. I won't use her real name because I don't want to get her fired.

Ji-Yeon works with me. She's a Korean teacher at my hagwon. Currently, she's taking a breather from undergraduate studies at an elite university, one that just so happens to reside in the northeastern United States. In other words,she's a young Korean woman in tune with American ways and whims. And movies. She can talk Cloverfield or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

And she's pretty damn cute.

I asked her to lunch in early January. "Like, with everybody?" she wondered, curious if it was a co-worker-wide invitation. "No, uh, no." I motioned uncertainly with my hands. You and me, my hands said. You and me.

"Oh," she replied. "Where did you want to eat?"

We lunched at a U.S.-style sandwich shop. I nibbled my burger and asked her questions. She answered them politely, but kept her arms crossed tightly over her chest. I tried to shrug off her negative body language, but I instead smiled a little too much, hoping that the glint off my teeth would magically drop her arms to her sides. At ease, soldier. At ease.

Though my arm-dropping magic failed, she at least was still talking. She remarked on how odd it was that she was the only Korean in the restaurant. I hadn't noticed that earlier, but as I Iooked around the interior of the cafe, I saw a smattering of very white faces. Probably Canadians. "Hm, yeah, you're right, " I said, "does that make you feel... uncomfortable or anything or is it cool?" She said she's fine with it, that she found it interesting was all. I found it interesting too. After all, we were in Bundang, not Nova Scotia.

"What did you talk about at lunch?" my friend asked me. He wanted a recap. Was it a bad sign that I had to struggle to conjure the details beyond body language? Perhaps, but Ji-Yeon had nevertheless intrigued me enough to schedule a second lunch.

And a third. And a fourth. She began to open up...a little. She told me about the draining stress of flying back and forth between Korea and the States. She told me about how she dropped (destroyed) the cake at her dad's birthday celebration. I learned that her father loved sushi. During that fourth lunch, we commiserated over the confusion of curry: what exactly is it, and are we eating it already?

But at work we were strangers. She'd barely look at my direction. I had heard through the grapevine that Korean teachers were forbidden to date American teachers, but I figured the rule was a piece of common-sense advice rather than stern doctrine. Besides, Ji-Yeon and I were only meeting for lunch; it's not like we were necking under the bleachers.

After that fourth lunch, I suggested that we meet for dinner. We decided on Italian. She said that sounded fine,and since I paid for the latest meal, she would cover the next one. We were talking in specifics, places and times. I was confident dinner would happen.

In the taxi I asked for her number. I didn't have a cell phone, and she didn't have a pen. There was silence. The temperature changed in the cab, or at least that's how it felt to me. I blamed myself for breaking the 21st century code of number exchange: I didn't have a cell phone. God, I really needed a cell phone.

Back at work,she scribbled down her digits, and three days later, I bought a cell. After months of dude-get-a-phone ribbing from my buddies, it took a girl to finally make me break.

I called that morning.

"Yo-buh-say-yo?" she answered.

"Hi Ji-yeon," I said slowly, my way of announcing that I don't speak no Korean. "It's Alex...from work."

I joked about how I finally joined the cell phone revolution....and then I popped the question: "Would you want get some dinner tomorrow night?"

"Tomorrow night?" she responded, "I'm going to my grandmother's for the weekend."

That feeling of temperature-change in the cab came back to me. I felt like she wanted to get off the phone. "What time would work better for you?"

"Next week," she said swiftly.


"Um," she said, "I'll call you Monday...or Sunday."

Okay. At least we were back to specifics, right? She'd call Monday or Sunday. That's what she said. If she weren't interested, she wouldn't use specifics, would she?

Would she?

She didn't call on Sunday. She didn't call on Monday. I sent a casual text message, lowering the stakes from dinner to an offer of lunch. No response.

I was frustrated, especially considering that our previous lunch had been the most natural, easiest-going time we'd experienced. Or so I thought. I wasn't stupid. If she wasn't calling, if she wasn't texting...that meant she wasn't into it, and that was fine. Game over.

Or was it?

"Korean girls like to be chased," my friend Janet, a Korean-American, told me. "Don't give up. Wait till after vacation, and call again."

"Are you just saying that?" I was skeptical. These sounded like charitable but empty words.

"Trust me," Janet said. "You have to pursue. That's how it works. Try again."

David's Korean-born girlfriend EunJin offered a similar sentiment on Korean women: "They like to play...hard to get."

"So don't give up?"

Don't give up.

I went to China. During the trip's idle moments, I'd think about Ji-Yeon. Was all my talk of temperature shifts imagined? Did I really have a shot with her? If Janet and Eunjin were right, I'd have to come to grips with the fact that the she's just not that into you signs I learned in the United States didn't hold much water in the Korean scene. Time for new expectations. New results.

Hours after I returned to Korea, I called. She didn't pick up the phone. I left a voicemail. I waited. And waited.

She didn't call back.

"How was China?" she asked, her voice straining just a hair, or maybe not. We were standing by the elevators at work, and I was trying to play it cool, as if I never called her in the first place.

"China was good. How was your break."

"Fine, went to my grandmother's."

What was up with this girl and her grandmother? I would chalk it up to a ruse but I heard her tell other people that she was visiting this "grandma" character.

Anyway, I stood there, waiting to see if she was going to mention the calls. She didn't mention anything, and she didn't really look at me either. I had no idea what she was thinking.

I still don't. Could it be job-related? Ji-Yeon is a personal friend of my boss, and I later learned that a couple months ago, an American teacher was required to have a serious conference about his standing in the hagwon because he was dating a Korean employee. That female employee could have been fired if she wasn't voluntarily leaving the academy anyway. Maybe Ji-Yeon didn't want to face the prospect of all that trouble.

Or could it be race-related? Ji-Yeon may have never before dated a non-Korean. Perhaps she saw our previous lunches in a different light than I did. We're just friendly co-workers, she may have thought, so why is this white dude trying so hard to get my phone number?

Or could it be that Ji-Yeon plainly didn't feel a connection with me? I remember the way she crossed her arms, which is the commonly accepted NO sign in Asian countries.

"It doesn't matter, man," David told me, "Pick whatever reason you want."

In typical dating situations, there could be several explanations for why things go south, but when we're talking dating across cultures? The possible reasons, explanations, and justifications multiply. But if the end result is the same, who cares?

I do, and I've chosen the reason why Ji-Yeon bailed on me: she is actually a CIA agent working undercover in Korea. She cannot compromise her identity, and thus, she cannot do Italian for dinner.

Case closed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Travelogue #25: Diaries of the Chinese New Year, Beijing 2008

<---Travelogue #24: Copied, Pasted, and Pissed: Plagiarism Gets Personal
--->Travelogue #26: My Rocky Introduction to Korean Dating

Wednesday 2-6-08: "Goddammit, you're an acrobat."

Fireworks crack the Beijing sky like gunshots. Boom boom boom. I watch through my hotel window, but when I shut my eyes, I feel like it's Bombs-over-Baghdad time.


Caution. It's Lunar New Year in China.

Boom boom boom boom.

I arrived in Red Country this morning, exhausted and unshaven in a hoody. I looked like the Unabomber. The flight was early, and I felt its effects through the rest of the day. Tiananmen Square?

It's the largest public square in the world, but as I padded across its immense width, I couldn't quite remember its history. A student protester was almost stomped here by a tank in the late 1980s, right? (I later went to my hotel's internet cafe to check Wikipedia. I ran into a problem: I could log-on to the web, but I couldn't log on to Wikipedia. That stuff about China and net censorship? Not an urban legend. The government forbids Wikipedia. Wow. I hope I won't get pistol-whipped by an official for writing that sentiment on a Chinese computer.)

We walked into the Forbidden City, a complex of temples adorned with extravagant flourishes of jade and gold.

The temples reminded me of the smaller ones I'd seen in Korea, and perhaps for that reason, the Forbidden City left me feeling strangely unaffected. The temples were so huge and so meticulously structured that I felt overwhelmed and understimulated at the same time, meaning that I didn't know where to look, that I didn't know enough history to care, and that I felt too tired to listen carefully to my lovely tour guide.

That's right. Tour guide. Her name is Lina. It's eight English teachers from Korea and her on a bus; she's usually armed with a microphone, a cute smile, and an extensive knowledge about everything China. When not on board, she's introducing us to either landmarks or a a troupe of Chinese acrobats.

Did I just say Chinese acrobats?

Yes, I did.

In the late afternoon we descended upon a shimmery theater to watch an acrobatics show. To put it simply, the acrobats were cool. They did flips. They did flips on stilts. They did flips from see-saws. I fell asleep. I heard a roar of applause and opened my eyes. The crowd was clapping and the acrobats were still flipping.

I broke into an internal monologue: "I get it! You're an acrobat!"

Another flip.

"Stop proving it to me! I am not doubting you!"

Flipping, flipping, flipping!

"Goddammit you're an acrobat!"

I fell asleep again.

Dinner came later and mirrored lunch: same restaurant, same communal let's-share-barbecue -beef-and-sweet-and-sour-chicken vibe. During meals, I misspoke several times, saying "here in Korea" as if China was Korea. I also wanted to say "com-sam-need-ah" to thank the servers, until I realized that though Beijing is a mere hour and a half from Seoul, it's in its own country with its own language. That means I got to put "Annyong Haseyo" in my lockbox.

Now I'm in this hotel room, where out the window the fireworks just won't stop. Other teachers walk the city streets but I stay behind, vowing to join them tomorrow night.

I need sleep, the kind that won't be disturbed by acrobats.

Thursday 2/7/08: "It's not the 'fairly good wall' or the 'reasonably okay wall.' It's the Great Wall!"

Sleep makes me a man again. I take a shower and put on my contacts. I don't look like the Unabomber anymore.

China, I'm ready for you.

We kick the day off at a jade factory. The Chinese love jade, and I'm not talking about David Caruso. According to our tour guide, in Chinese esteem, "gold is precious, but jade is priceless." I respond to that knowledge with the following photograph:

Our next stop is Ming's Tomb, where I pay more attention to the ladies and gentlemen who work there than to the actual tomb itself.

I wonder what they're chatting about. Dinner? Gossip about a co-worker?

These men walk back and forth, back and forth...and back and forth. That's their job description. I guess they're protecting the tomb from angry photographers who get too close? Jason looms creepily behind them, as if he's Wayne Brady looking to choke a bitch.

After a quick lunch, it's off to the Great Wall of China...and here ends my snark.

The truth is, before the Great Wall Experience, I haven't yet enjoyed China. I put enjoyed in italics because I want to make clear the distinction between learning from something and contemplating its meaning versus actually enjoying it. And feeling it. Living it instead of just watching it.

Today I live the Great Wall.

Sure, I take my share of pictures like everybody, but I climb that wall. I feel it under my feet, its irregular and ancient steps, some higher than others, their steep thrust up, up, up into the green mountains. If I sound pretentious, know that I don't mean to be. I mean, come on, it's the Great Wall of China!

The closet I came to scaling it came in 1992, when I as Bart Simpson skateboarded across it in the name of Nintendo. 1992. Bart Simpson. Seriously.

My companions share my joy as we climb to the wall's highest point at its highest tower. It's cold and windy but I do a little dance anyway. "The Great Wall!" Natalie bellows, "it's you, me, and Genghis Khan!"

The experience leaves me with a residual buzz. As I write, I can still feel it in my legs.

Dinner is Peking Duck, a Chinese delicacy. If you want to eat Peking Duck, our tour guide tells us, you have to call the restaurant two days in advance. That time allows the eatery to kill the duck and hang it til its skin dries. That's what you call a delicacy. I think that means we're safe from a Peking Duck Bell.

Damn. This bird tastes good; it's more tender than turkey and it's packed with a tangy sauciness. Chopsticks clash over its last morsels. We run out of it quickly, too quickly. I never thought "Duck, Duck, Goose" could sound appetizing, but after this meal, just thinking of that game makes me salivate.

Sunday 2-10-2008 "Back home...home is Korea?"

Friday is my final full day in China.

We see the Temple of Heaven, where if you shout through a wall on one end, the person on the opposite end of the temple can hear you as if you're speaking through a telephone.

We see the Summer Palace and its beautiful view of an icy expanse that in the summer turns to lake.

But what I will remember most from this day is my time with Lina the tour guide. We shiver under a blanket as a rickshaw takes us spiraling through the bumpy alleys of Beijing.

It is on this ride where I get to know her as more than just a repository of China knowledge: this woman wants to own a small business one day, one where she'll sell cultural knick-knacks from the Arabic world. Cool. Since she visited Seoul in the past, we discuss the in's and out's of Korean food. This moment is another one of the I would never imagine... variety: a Chinese woman and a Nebraska boy talking Korean food on a rickshaw rolling through Beijing on a cold February afternoon.

I close my eyes, reminding myself that this, all this, is real.

This is real.

The next day I am back in Korea.

Home. That's the word that disoriented me in China. After you go on vacation, you go home. That's how it works. When I was eight, I would visit my grandparents in Omaha, Nebraska, and in the middle of our stay, I'd ask my mom, "Do you miss our house?" "Yes," she'd say. "Do you?" I'd nod. I'd always nod, because being away from home always clarified why home mattered.

In China, I found myself thinking about people back in Korea. Does that mean Korea really is my home? Well, I did feel comfortable returning to the Seoul airport, for I reveled in the Korean characters on the signage, thankful to be free from the unfamiliar Chinese. On Sunday I ate dakgalbi, my favorite Korean dish at my favorite Korean restaurant...

"It's your temporary home," my mom stressed through an email.

Can you be "home" if you've spent only three months somewhere? My friend Jovan once told me her definition of "home", and my mom echoed the sentiment in her email: "Home is where your mama is."

When I think about it more deeply, I agree. Sure, I might have several homes where I'll meet people who will touch me or even change my life. But home? Home-home?

Home is where my mama is.

<---Travelogue #24: Copied, Pasted, and Pissed: Plagiarism Gets Personal
--->Travelogue #26: My Rocky Introduction to Korean Dating


Monday, February 4, 2008

Travelogue #24: Copied, Pasted, and Pissed: Plagiarism Gets Personal

<---Travelogue #23: The Day I Introduced Korean Kids to Fruit Loops
--->Travelogue #25: Diaries of the Chinese New Year, Beijing 2008

Am I oddly flattered? Am I ticked off? Am I downright puzzled? I'm all those things. She stole my words, my sentences, and my thoughts. I might be overreacting or slipping into melodrama, but as Usher puts it, "these are my confessions."

Wednesday morning I find a co-worker's blog and skim it, curious of how her experiences in Korea compare with my own. My eyes drop on her January 23rd entry, where she writes, "It's difficult to believe that I've been in Korea for almost a month, but I'm believing it because I don't have time to be pre-emptively nostalgic."

Oh my God.

Am I hallucinating, or is there something weirdly familiar about her words?

"It's still "busy season", which means we teachers are spending eleven hours a day at the academy teaching English. Busy busy busy. Last week was especially rough; a stomach virus over took the majority of my co-workers."

My fingers get frantic. I click to my blog and its January 20th entry. I re-read my first paragraph.

"It's hard to believe I've been in Korea for three months, but I'm believing it because I don't got time to be pre-emptively nostalgic. It's still "busy season", which means we teachers are spending eleven hours a day at the academy parting English lessons on to the kiddies. Busy busy busy. Last week was especially rough: an office-wide virus left the majority of my co-workers, myself included, drained and sick."

I can understand high school students copying an English essay for an A, but to snatch language from a blog without crediting it? A blog focused on your personal experiences and your memories?

What could be the motivation for doing a thing like that?

The more I looked at the words she copied the angrier I became. Not only had she ripped off my language, but she'd also whitewashed my voice. In my entry, I wrote, "I don't got time to be pre-emptively nostalgic," hoping my use of "got" would add light swagger to a potentially pretentious sentence. She wrote, "I don't have time to be pre-emptively nostalgic," a sentiment that loses its swagger with the verb switch.


I need to be careful not to drown in minutia, because the problem with the nature of plagiarism in 2008 is a bigger one than shared words on different blogs. We're talking about the nature of intellectual property in the Internet age. Are we reaching the point where only content and not authorship matters? If I don't publish a novel with copyright, is anything I write fair game to be distributed with somebody else's name on it? If I don't financially benefit from writing "pre-emptively nostalgic" blog entries, and my co-worker doesn't profit from copying them, what legal complaint do I have?

Emotional damages? Bleh.

Plagiarism draws a line at once razor-sharp and remarkably fuzzy. I'm reminded of the Kaavya Viswanathan controversy. Viswanathan is a Harvard student who in 2006 authored a much-buzzed-about debut novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. The young author was set to be crowned the next queen of chick-lit... until several newspapers uncovered glaring similarities between her novel and works by The Princess Diaries scribe Meg Cabot. Examples of lifted passages can be found in this Harvard Crimson story. But even after a subsequent media firestorm, Viswanathan trumpeted her innocence, calling any instances of similar language "unintentional and unconscious." When further allegations surfaced, Viswanathan turned silent. Mehtha was removed from bookshelves, its film adaptation was cancelled, and so was Viswanathan's literary contract.

Still, she received no punishment from Harvard's administration. No suspension, no expulsion. She's now a senior, and she'll graduate with an Ivy League degree.

My co-worker didn't pull an Opal Mehtha, but she pulled something. I should talk to her and ask for her side of the story. Maybe she'll claim any similarities between her blog and mine were "unintentional and unconscious. " I don't know. I wrestled with the idea of talking to her before writing this entry, but part of me did not want to let my voice be neutered . I wanted to let out my frustrations, even if they were messy.

My position has only strengthened on this Sunday morning, for when I check her page...I find an entry suspiciously similar to a former co-worker's blog.

She did it again.

To all writers: appreciate your own voice. Value it. Respect it. Even if your work doesn't grace the shelves of Barnes and Noble, somebody out there might be hearing your words...a little too well.

<---Travelogue #23: The Day I Introduced Korean Kids to Fruit Loops
--->Travelogue #25: Diaries of the Chinese New Year, Beijing 2008